A man out standing in the field of Chinese herbs: a conversation with Andy Ellis

With Guest: Andy Ellis

Episode Qi013

Our guest did not start out with the intention of building a medicinal herb import company. It started out as a way to solve his own problems with sourcing herbs. And as is often the case, one thing lead to another.

In this episode we take a look at some of the common concerns practitioners have about herb quality, issues surrounding the use of pesticides, heavy metals and sulfur. Additionally we discuss how the concerns of Western herbalists has to some degree changed the herb market and growing practices in China.

In the later part of the show we explore the use of granulated formulas. Explain why the 5:1 concentration that most products tout is misleading. Why crafting formulas and dosing granules is not the same as dosing raw herbs because granules are a fundamentally different medium of delivering herbs. And finally, how we can begin to think about dosing this herbal product that is fairly new on the Chinese herbal medicine scene.

If herbal medicine is part of your practice, you'll want to listen in to this conversation!
In this conversation we discuss:
  • How Springwind herbs came into being
  • Pesticide testing and how pesticide use has changed over time
  • Legal issues around pesticides on imported herbs and the choices companies and individuals make
  • Find a vendor that matches your values and perspective concerning herbs and pesticides.
  • The situation with organic herbs from China
  • A reason for not using pesticides that we often forget about
  • A few pertinent issues around heavy metals and Chinese herbs
  • Sulfuring of Chinese herbs, there is a difference between sulfides and sulfur
  • Granules, why the stated 5:1 concentration does not reflect reality
  • Understanding source herb to final product ratio
  •   So, just how are we supposed to dose granules if we can not be sure of their actual concentration?
  • How granules are used and dosed in Taiwan
  • Some herbs can not be concentrated
  • A few thoughts to keep in mind concerning “integrated medicine”
Andy Ellis

I began my study of Chinese medicine at the New England School of Acupuncture in 1981 with Dr. James So. In 1983 I went to Taiwan to study Chinese and apprenticed in herbology and acupuncture there with Xu Fu-Su in Zhang Hua. I also studied with Chen Jun-Ming in Taipei. In 1986 I went to mainland China and studied acupuncture with Dr. Shi Neng-Yun for six months and in 1988 returned to Xiamen to study dermatology, gynecology and internal medicine at the Xiamen Chinese medical hospital. I lived at the hospital for about a year. In 1990 I had the opportunity to study ear, nose and throat with Dr. Gan Zu-Wang in a one-month intensive program in Xiamen.

I returned to the US later in 1990, practiced in Florida and two years later moved to California to teach herbology at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1992 we founded Spring Wind Herbs, Inc.

Since that time I have practiced and taught Chinese medicine and translated, co-translated, edited or written several books on Chinese medicine including the following:

Notes from South Mountain – Thin Moon Publishing
The Clinical Experience of Dr. Shi Neng-Yun – Thin Moon Publishing
A Walk Along the River – Eastland Press
Formulas and Strategies (Second Edition) – Eastland Press
Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine – Paradigm Publications
Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture – Paradigm Publications
Grasping the Wind – Paradigm Publications
Handbook of Formulas in Chinese Medicine – Eastland Press
Ten Lectures on the Use of Medicinals – Paradigm Publications
Links and Resources


Andy runs Springwind Herbs

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Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.